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Ten year old male running, limits

Answered By Jeff Arbogast

Question

I have a ten year old son, very physically fit, has been running occassionaly for approximately two years. For about 9 months running in earnest, Runs 5-6 days a week approximately 2-3 miles. Began competive running this year with a 10 mile, 8 mile and 3.1 mile race. He did very well. Our pediatrian suggested this site for further information on how much is too much for a ten year old and how he can safely train for a 1/2 marathon coming up in about 6 weeks. Thank you, Robin

Answer

My first reaction to this would be to discourage a 10-year-old from running a race (at least competitively) that is at a half-marathon distance, but if it is necessary, several points should be looked at. First . . is the training fun? If so, and if he is excited to do it, the initial pitfall is over. Secondly, is this the young man's decision? Does he want to not only train, but also race at this distance? If so . . .the second problem is overcome. Now . . . at this age, realize his competitive peak will be reached in about 17-18 years, particularly at this distance or over, so keeping the focus on fun and variety in training, with an eye just toward "completion" of the half-marathon distance, would be paramount and help prolong a running career. To this end, I would avoid all specifc trackwork and anything that requires higher velocity and focus on steady-state runs and aerobic work (cross training where the heartrate is kept up near race pace). At this age, we want to keep an 'energy' for running, so plan one "long" run every microcycle to help him get the feel of being 'on the road' for an extended time, and then allow plenty of shorter runs and rest periods or other sports. The long run can be done by time . . perhaps an hour once a week . . .and the shorter runs should be 25-35 minutes. Try to keep the focus off of a race time or goal . . .and just allow completion to be the aim of the event. Realize this should be a fun event . . .and the mileage and training to race a half would obviously be a lot different . . . but that can come when he is 27 . . . rather than 10. At this age, the fun and joy of the experience will be the main goal. Coach Arb

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